[Us] Working in Sofia

'Phil Weir' via Управителен Съвет us at initlab.org
Tue Dec 8 02:52:07 EET 2020

Hi Tocho,

Thanks for the detailed reply - that all makes sense - a few responses

The first point to highlight (explained more below) - we are currently
looking for
someone with maybe a year or two's experience, so pretty junior, but not a
graduate - our planned salary is likely lower than a mid-level dev would be
interested in.

On Sat, Dec 5, 2020 at 6:45 PM Tocho Tochev <tocho at tochev.net> wrote:

> Hi,
> Sorry for the delayed response.
> Regarding your first question, about the possibility of a co-working desk:
> - currently due to COVID-19 there is government enforced lockdown
>      - as a result we do not do any co-working, we even encourage people
> not to come to the lab if it can be avoided
>      - this may change, but it is doubtful that normal co-working would
> be a possibility before the spring/summer

That makes sense.

> - we scrapped the fixed co-working desks, because we decided the space
> would better suit a hardware room (3D printing), so we currently have
> only what we call "flex" desk
>      - this means you don't have a dedicated desk
>      - if you have a PC you have to store it away after you leave (we
> have member boxes, but they are not locked)

Ah, cool. That seems logical.

>      - events in the lab take priority
>          - they are after working hours/on weekends and we have several
> rooms, there is only one event (preparation for a conference) that lasts
> a week (around the first week of November), so in practice it shouldn't
> be a problem for someone working with EU working hours

That seems fair.

>      - about the calls - people have them, some prefer to go to other
> rooms or the hallway, but we do not offer any type of "conference
> room"/"dedicated call booth"

     - given the above, there is less expectation of business but more
> of a community, so the price and the conditions reflect it
>      - the membership for flex desk is EUR 32 per month
>      - note that these were the conditions before the pandemic, we do
> not know what will happen after the lockdown is lifted

That makes sense.

> Regarding the second question, the possibility of finding someone for
> the job, we have unwritten policy of not posting job offers, exceptions
> have been made for volunteer work.
> That being said, if the person is going to do mostly open source work,
> it is my personal belief, that there might be some people that will be
> interested, depending on the type of work.

Grand - we started out in a similar hackerspace, so that all seems sensible.
At the moment (as with everyone) we are a bit up in the air.

We have a policy of not retaining any closed copyright or patent at all. We
take some client projects which are mostly closed source, if we need to, but
on the condition that we have contractual freedom to release non-sensitive
code openly. All of our products are open source, and we have a policy that,
within reason (e.g. yes, we will use AWS/Azure/GKE :D), we will only pull
in open code and libraries except by specific request.

For our own products, which we often use with public sector, these are
fully open source - a lot of work needs done to polish them, but that's
why we are looking at options for extending the team!

One of the main tools that we are trying to get people using (which was
developed elsewhere) is http://archesproject.org/ -- we have quite
cool (haha) Antarctic work going on with that too.

> So if you are still looking for a dev, please give more information
> about the expected work (at least for the foreseeable future),
> languages/technologies, how much is to be open source, a contact email,
> and we can check by word of mouth if anybody is interested.

Sure - as with everyone else, it is very uncertain what and how we will
be working over the coming months. Realistically, I expect it would be
a mixture - say 50% (but really from 25%-75% is reasonably likely).
We try and keep as much of the team on our open products as possible,
to help the company scale, but it depends on whether I (as the lead
engineer) am bringing in enough to cover salary, whether the rest of the
team needs to support client work too.

However, we do have a couple of R&D funds on-going on our open source
work, at least for the next few months.

Specifics - at this point, we are looking for someone fairly junior, ideally
with a couple of years professional experience, but we want to try this with
one dev, and if it's successful, try and build up a team with seniors and
in Sofia too. Ideally!

In terms of stack, I really want to emphasize this (it's a reason I've
given up on recruitment firms, as they don't take it on board) - I don't
care what coding background someone has, as long as they
 - understand fundamental principles (OOP, etc.)
 - are really keen to understand code but still driven about getting things
 - strong self-motivation and responsibility
 - are into open source.
Our own stack is Kubernetes, VueJS, Laravel/PHP, Python and a little Rust.
we have bits of Flutter, Go, Ruby, Erlang, Terraform and many others, so
I'd rather a
good C# dev, than an inflexible Python one :) We tend to do data science,
and numerics. Our main products do data validation for public sector,
journalists and teach about natural disasters (all different fields,
similar stack).

At the moment, given our current commitments, we could afford a salary in
mid 20s - I'd probably recruit around that level in NI, if it doesn't look
like it'd work
out in Sofia. Our next Sofia hire would likely be mid or senior, at a
higher level.

I appreciate that's not a lot (our salaries are pretty similar to Sofia's,
I think), but
as I say, for a first Bulgaria hire, we would be looking at someone junior
to work
closely with me (online). If you do reckon that's too low to get someone
with a year's
experience at least, please do say - that'd be helpful feedback. We would
on-the-job support obviously, so I'm not expecting someone to come in
knowing a
huge amount, but being able to work on a problem without close supervision
hand-holding is critical.

For timelines, if I can get someone in in that range very quickly, that'd
be great -
if it looked like we would only be interviewing someone after Christmas, we
look at options here in NI too.

I can send through a proper job spec, but it'd be good to know your gut
first and thank you for your help!

All the best,
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